Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How a loser becomes a champion August 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:23 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Northfield NAPA employees, spouses/significant others and guests gathered recently for a backyard pizza party that included bean bag and ladder golf competitions on a perfect summer evening.

IF YOU WERE TO RATE your athletic abilities on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 ranking as Olympic status, how would you rank yours?

I don’t hesitate. Mine would fall off the scale in the minus category. I doubt I possess an athletic bone in my body. And if I do, I haven’t found, or even looked for, it. And I don’t care. I simply don’t care. Sports have never held priority in life. I don’t watch sports, care which team wins or loses, or think athletes are God’s gift to the world.

Personally, my minimal sports participation typically does not involve anything intensely competitive.

That is why, every January and every August, I cringe when I hear that sporting competitions are part of my husband’s company Christmas and pizza parties. I suppose you could then ask, “Why do you go to these parties, Audrey?” And I would tell you because of the superb food and the people.

Everything is homemade, even the dough for the pizza crust.

Fresh ingredients top the pizzas made by Dan, this year with two in-training assistants.

The pizzas are baked in a wood-fired outdoor oven. I would rather eat at Dan and Jan's house any day over dining at a restaurant. And I'm not saying that because Dan's the boss. He and Jan are fantastic cooks.

I’ve tried, oh, yes, I’ve tried to level the playing field. “Can we please play Scrabble?” I’ve asked the husband’s boss several times. Dan just smiles and places me in a bracket along with all the other spouses/significant others and employees. I play along, putting minimal effort into whatever event because I know I’m just not good enough to win. You might say I have a loser’s attitude.

About now you’re thinking, well, with an attitude like that…, and you would be right. But if you were the last kid picked for the softball team, if you were the skinny-armed girl the brawny boys chose to plow through when playing Red Rover, if you struggled with physical education classes under the duress of teachers who expected you to perform as well as the best athlete in the class, if you grew up on a farm and never had the opportunity to participate in sports, wouldn’t you possess an athletic inferiority complex, too?

I thought so.

At the holiday party, I never know which I should wish for—to shoot pool, throw darts or play Wii bowling. All, in my unathletic hands, are potentially dangerous. Thus far I have not inflicted any injuries upon groins or eyes while lining up pool shots or throwing darts. But Wii bowling, which I have not yet attempted, makes me nervous. If anyone could manage to wipe out the boss’ big screen TV, it would be me.

On a recent weekend, when we were in the boss’ backyard for the annual pizza party and I was on deck to play ladder golf with my husband as my partner, I made sure I was flinging the dual golf balls toward the public walking path and not toward the neighbor’s house windows.

Smart woman, I am.

The spouse and I got a bye on the first ladder golf round because the other team didn’t show up. We won the second game in just two throws each. Then suddenly we were in the championship game. How did that happen? I started to get all nervous because a crowd was gathering to watch. If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s a group watching me compete. Throws my game, like I ever had a game anyway.

Neither the husband or I could throw worth a darn. But then neither could the dad half of the other team. The 12-year-old was making us all look like losers, although even I was aiming better than my spouse.

Here I am, posing like one of the girls on The Price is Right. I will keep my day job as a writer and photographer.

After what seemed like an interminably long time of tossing into the blinding sun and facing those pressing crowds (OK, more like a handful of people), we won. I had actually, really, truly won a competitive sporting event.

And I got a prize—a humungous cooler on wheels—which would not fit into the trunk of our car but which my spouse managed to shove onto the back seat. We do not own a compact car; it is a 1995 Chrysler Concorde.

At first I was super excited about my prize. But then I got realistic. I started thinking: “When will we ever use a cooler that big? We’ll need a lot of ice. Hmmm, that will take up a significant storage space that we don’t have in our house. If we haul that in the car, we won’t have room for the boy in the backseat.”

For now we’ve stashed the oversized cooler in the basement and, honestly, it’s bigger than the dorm fridge we have down there for the pop and beer. You could fit a small child inside the cooler. It would make a good toy box if I had kids young enough to need a toy box.

I expect we’ll lug it up the stairs next spring when our youngest graduates from high school and we need a cooler to stash beverages for the graduation party. After that…, well, I don’t know.

But I’ve been thinking… Anybody want to come over for a little Scrabble competition? I’ve got this great prize…

JUST IN CASE THE BOSS is reading this post, thank you for the cooler. It really is a nice prize as is the gift certificate my spouse won to an area chain restaurant. But if I were you, I wouldn’t put me in the Wii bowling competition at the holiday party. Just sayin’.

I could have won this umbrella-dual folding lawn chair set. I like my cooler just fine, thank you.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling